The JDC-Miller MotorSports DPi Overcomes Rear Wing Issue for Surprising Victory
By Jeff Olson
SEBRING, Fla. – It was, to put it mildly, an adventure.
After struggling for two days to find speed in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling/JDC-Miller MotorSports Cadillac DPi-V.R – and without a properly functioning rear wing at the end of the race – Sebastien Bourdais found just enough pace Saturday night to lead his team to an improbable victory.
When the top element of the rear wing went missing shortly after a restart with 19 minutes remaining in the race, Bourdais managed to stay just far enough ahead of the field. He brought the damaged car to the finish line 1.435 seconds ahead of Harry Tincknell’s Mazda to claim the 69th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts.
Bourdais wasn’t sure what had happened when the wing broke. Before he discerned it was a problem with the car’s aerodynamics, he nearly lost control of the Cadillac.
“I’m just really lucky that I didn’t stuff it in Turn 17 before I made the adjustments,” Bourdais said. “That was a very, very close call there. At the same time, thankfully I had enough of a gap to (Tincknell) that he didn’t pass us by the time I collected myself. I didn’t know it was the rear wing until I got out of the car (in victory lane), but I knew something had happened aerodynamically.”
With his car out of shape and suddenly two seconds a lap off pace, Bourdais’ relatively comfortable lead over Tincknell dissolved into a nose-to-tail chase over Sebring International Raceway’s 17-turn, 3.74-mile circuit. Tincknell challenged for the lead several times, but Bourdais didn’t relinquish.
“Every corner that was coming, I was like, ‘Man, how am I going to do this one?’” Bourdais said. “The flip side of (the broken wing) is that the car was extremely fast down the straightaway, too. I was very hard to pass there.
“I don’t know. Sometimes with the gods of racing, you don’t know what’s happening. You just take it and move on. That was one of the most improbable situations that I’ve ever been a part of that turned out in a good way.”
As previous leaders encountered crashes and mechanical problems during the course of the race’s first 11 hours, Bourdais and his co-drivers, Loic Duval and Tristan Vautier, found their Cadillac in the lead late in the race.
That came after multiple incidents – both involving the No. 5 and other contenders – that culminated with the final 19 minutes. The No. 5 car led only 28 laps – all of them within the final 31 laps of the race – as Bourdais held off Tincknell, who co-drove the No. 55 Mazda Motorsports Mazda DPi RT24-P with Oliver Jarvis and Jonathan Bomarito.
While JDC-Miller MotorSports celebrated its unlikely overall and Daytona Prototype International (DPi) win, two teams were enjoying dominating victories in the other prototype classes. Read the full story